Apt. + Car + All I Have and Own Dir. Clara Bodén

[CPH: DOX; 2014]

Styles: documentary, experimental
Others: Subconscious Society

I grew up in a crummy paper mill town in Michigan, semi-rural but within quick reach of honest-to-God midwestern countryside. I’m not sure why I felt like such a mutant there (aside from the perpetual bullying I received), but I do not remember a time in my life when I didn’t want something other than what I had . The city, or something else, was calling.

In Clara Bodén’s short documentary Apt. + Car +All I Have and Own, we see that this sort of restlessness is endemic among rural kids in Sweden. In Bodén’s hometown of Jämtland, staying put is anathema: speaking to a group of kids about this drive to leave home, she is told by a male student that only “stupid girls” would stay there any longer than is necessary. This hits home with Bodén, who was prompted to her research here by a conversation in which her sister declared, “I don’t think I’m worth more than Jämtland.” After her initial dismissiveness of her sister’s statement, she started to second-guess the conversation and her own ingrained notions of what it meant. This film is about Bodén’s search for understanding.

Apt. + Car +All I Have and Own expounds on its thesis in a decidedly fractured, non-linear way, but maintains a cohesion guided by its own internal vernacular. Bodén hops back, forth, and sideways in time, tethered by a leitmotif of a passenger’s eye view inside a car, driving knowingly and patiently through the high contrast of snowy rural Sweden at night. The apparent sure-footedness (sure-wheeledness?) of the driver seems to represent her perception of her sister: Initially, this drive seems harrowing and hopeless, but later takes on the feeling of being, if not quite easy, at least commonplace. This move from fear to comfort reveals a deep sympathy for her sister’s resignation to a life in Jämtland, even if Bodén can’t fully embrace those feelings.

Bodén raises a lot of interesting questions here which should resound with anyone who has treated their entry into “the big city” as an escape hatch. What is one seeking? Why are these things “better” or “worse”? What are we escaping? Apt. + Car +All I Have and Own doesn’t answer any of these questions, but raising them is valuable in itself.

Apt. + Car + All I Have and Own screens November 12th and 16th at CPH:DOX, Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival.

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